The decision to make a change in your marital status is a difficult one. The emotional and financial implications of such a change, the ability to reconcile, the procedure to obtain a divorce, and the ultimate division of assets and liabilities are just four of the countless issues that may be of concern to you. Working with an attorney from the start is one of the best decisions that you can make to ensure that you set yourself up for success, and have experienced legal support each step of the way to ensure that your own needs and rights are prioritized throughout the process.
Whether you are filing for a contested divorce or if you and your spouse are willing to work collaboratively on every key detail of the process, you will want an attorney who can advocate for your best interests, keep your stress levels low, and give you guidance and understanding for each of the many complicated issues that you will need to figure out both with and without your spouse.
How Kirsch & Kirsch Can Help
At Kirsch & Kirsch, our family law attorneys can assist you in fleshing out the issues that are of most concern to you. We will explore strategies to achieve your desired outcome in a manner that is expeditious and respectful. A fair settlement — without court intervention — is our emphasis. However, when litigation cannot be avoided, our team is prepared to strongly advocate on your behalf. Our office handles cases ranging from straightforward no-asset matters to complex marital estates that require business, real estate, and retirement valuations.
In many divorces, there is the question of valuations that can be contentious and complicated, and in many cases can result in continuous disagreement between spouses when trying to determine what an “equitable” distribution of marital assets looks like.
What To Expect During Your Initial Consultation
Potential clients are invited to set up an appointment with our experienced lawyers for an initial consultation, usually lasting about one hour. We do not charge for initial consultations. This consultation is a great opportunity for us to discuss your situation so that we can provide you with insight about how we will be able to help you move forward with your case, point out any areas that we see as potentially difficult or tricky, and give you an idea of what it means to be a client of the team at Kirsch & Kirsch, LLC.
Tips For Preparing For an Initial Consultation
Our attorneys encourage their clients to write down all questions of concern prior to their appointment and, if financial issues are among those concerns, to bring with them, to the extent available, income, and asset/debt information. Coming to your consultation prepared with the major questions that are keeping you up at night will be a good way to make sure that you do not leave our meeting and realize that you forgot one of the biggest factors that you are concerned about, or realizing that you may have forgotten to tell the attorney about a key detail about your marriage, finances, parental status, or other areas that would help them get much more context.
Types of Divorces in Jefferson City, MO
There are a few different ways that you can pursue a divorce in Missouri, each of which depends on the nature of your relationship with your spouse and the degree that you are willing to work together – if at all.
A fault divorce is one that is initiated by one spouse and essentially sues the other spouse for the divorce. In order to do so, they must indicate that the grounds for divorce are based on something that the defendant-spouse has done, such as engaged in infidelity, emotional abandonment, abuse, or any number of other legitimate grounds for a divorce. If your spouse is unwilling to work together with you, then this may be your only option, and we will be happy to guide you through this process as your divorce attorneys.
In a no-fault divorce, both spouses agree to the divorce meaning that one spouse does not need to set out to prove why they should be allowed to terminate the marriage. While not always possible, these types of divorces are ideally settled without a trial. The following methods of reaching agreements for a no-fault divorce can help save time, money, and avoid leaving it up to the courts to determine what happens to your assets, children, and everything else that must be settled before your divorce is finalized.
In a collaborative divorce, each spouse hires their own legal representation but is willing to work directly with the other party to go through the terms of the divorce. This option leaves room for more aggressive negotiation, and may still be contentious while trying to agree on certain factors. Since each spouse has their own lawyer present, they may feel more inclined to push to get what they want, and not what is fair.
A mediated divorce happens when the spouses agree to work together directly with the help of a disinterested third-party mediator. Through mediation, you will work with your spouse through each of the important details of your divorce in a way that works for both of you, which can lead to a much more amicable outcome between spouses. Collaborating requires a lot of goodwill on both sides, but when spouses are able to get through all of the divorce proceedings in this manner, they may be able to walk away from their marriage with better feelings about each other and overall satisfaction with the divorce that does not occur during contested divorces.
Retaining control over decisions relating to your and your spouse’s mutual assets through each step of your divorce is an empowering feeling that many people seek, either through collaboration or mediation, each of which we provide at Kirsch & Kirsch, LLC.
Divorce Requirements in Missouri
Before you can begin divorce proceedings in Missouri, it’s important to know whether you can legally file for a dissolution of marriage. In order to file for divorce in the state of Missouri, either you or your spouse must act as the petitioner — the person seeking the divorce. Even if you both desire the divorce, one party must act as the petitioner. The other is the respondent by default.
Missouri also has a residency requirement. Either you or your spouse must live in the state for a period of 90 days prior to filing for the divorce. Like many other states, Missouri has a 30-day “cooling off” period. You are required to wait for one month before you can finalize your divorce.
While the requirements for a no-fault divorce in Missouri are limited, there are several other factors that can affect your case. For example, if you have a large amount of assets or debt, you have children in common, or you or your spouse are seeking alimony, the case can become much more complex. Speak with a family law attorney at Kirsch & Kirsch, LLC to protect your rights.
Divorce and Family Law Statistics for Missouri
Over the last three decades, the divorce rate in Missouri has fallen from 5.1 divorces per thousand inhabitants to 2.9 divorces. Despite the decline in dissolutions of marriage, this places Missouri at seventeenth in the nation for divorces. One survey found that in 2016, there were approximately 2.5 million married individuals — or approximately 1.25 million couples — and 44,000 divorces. These statistics indicate that divorce is commonplace in Missouri.
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Other Family Law Services We Provide
There are many other services that individuals who are seeking a divorce in Missouri often require. As a full-service family law firm in Jefferson City, MO, we provide these additional legal services:
You may have determined that a specific shared-parenting schedule would be in the best interests of your children, but the other parent won’t agree to it. This is common when parents separate. Missouri law considers joint custody to be in the best interest of the child unless one of the parents can provide evidence to the contrary. In any event, you may require assistance negotiating a schedule for your children, which schools they’ll attend, the doctors they will see, etc. Kirsch & Kirsch can protect your rights as a parent and help you find the best co-parenting arrangement for your child.
Child support is determined by a number of factors, but the biggest ones are the number of children, the amount of time the child spends at the receiving parent’s residence, and the incomes of both parents. This will be determined by a calculator that the state uses to determine the dollar amount of support. Kirsch & Kirsch can also hold the other parent accountable should they not pay the court-mandated amount in a timely manner. We can garnish their wages, or in extreme cases, petition the court for criminal charges.
Alimony or Spousal Support
Alimony is awarded in some cases when the spouse who is requesting it requires additional help to make the transition to post-marital life. Alimony may be awarded on a temporary or permanent basis. It can also be paid in installments or in a lump sum.
Mediation does not mean that you forgo your right to counsel. The mediator is supposed to be impartial, but you should have an attorney review any agreements that you make during mediation before committing to them.
We also provide legal advice concerning establishing paternity, prenuptial, and postnuptial agreements. Call the attorneys at Kirsch & Kirsch if you require a family law service that you don’t see listed.
Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce in MO
The following are some of the most frequently asked questions by divorce and family law clients in Jefferson City. Contact us for specific legal advice about your case.
Do I need an attorney for a “no-fault” divorce?
Just because you seek a divorce without fault doesn’t mean that it can’t still be complicated. There are many factors to a dissolution of marriage other than who’s at fault. Here are a few factors that can complicate your divorce:
- Children in common
- The division of assets, including a house, cars, investments, furnishings, etc.
- Joint ownership of a business
- Alimony requirements
- Debt accrued during the marriage
These are just a few of the reasons that you need professional legal advice if you’re getting a divorce. Trying to save money on an attorney could have long-term negative repercussions for you and your family.
How long does a divorce take in Missouri?
Assuming you or your spouse has been a resident for three months, the divorce proceedings can begin immediately. If not, you will have to wait until you or your spouse can show you’ve lived in the state for 90 days. There is a mandatory 30-day waiting period once you’ve filed. If you require negotiations for things like child custody, asset division, etc., the process could last months or even years depending on the speed of the courts and the ability of you and your spouse to reach an agreement on pertinent factors.
Can I get full custody of my children?
In most cases, both parents have the right to raise their children under the law. This only applies to children that the other party parented, however. In cases where the other parent is deemed to be unfit, it’s possible to be awarded full custody. If you believe your spouse or the other parent of your children is unfit, you should speak to a family law attorney to learn about petitioning the courts for full custody.
Jefferson City Divorce and Family Law Attorneys
Please contact us today to set up your initial consultation. If you are interested in our mediation or arbitration services, please be sure to advise our assistant accordingly.